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Things I Never Heard in Fundamentalism — Salvation (14)

See — I think the whole thing comes down to two completely contrasting stories: the one I heard in Fundamentalism and the one I’m hearing now.

Let’s say your (general “you”) soul is like a house.

In fundamentalism, at salvation, you invite Jesus into your house, and He offers to clean up here and there — paint a few walls, steam clean the carpets, fix the leaky toilet. When He’s done helping out, He sits in the formal dining room and waits for you to join Him. “Tick-tock, tick-tock,” the grandfather clock is the loudest thing in that room. You bring Him a couple of meals, and you both talk awkwardly about a devotional you just read. He’s very polite — excruciatingly so — and you just feel stiff. And you hate sitting in those creaky dining room chairs.

In the mean time, Satan is having a rousing party in the rumpus room. See — when Jesus came into your house/soul, He didn’t kick Satan out. He just moved Himself in. Satan’s still there, still tempting you, still making loud fun in the next room.

And at every moment of the day, you must choose: will you sit in the formal dining room talking politely with your Savior or will you go to the rave party in the basement with the Enemy? Sheer will is the only thing that stands between you and your eternal damnation. As your aging senses grow dim and your bones ache more, you are more likely to just stay put in that dining room while you self-righteously rant about those young whipper-snappers who are tempted to party.

And then you die and go to that Great Formal Dining Room in the sky. Your conscience (like your bones) actually grows weaker with maturity. There’s little “progressive” about it.

But that’s not what I’m hearing in my new life. If your soul is a house, this is the way the story goes here:

Before salvation, Satan is your soul’s slumlord. He is a tyrant, and you’re miserable, but you really don’t know any different. Jesus bursts in — He breaks the door down even — and kicks him to the curb. He completely renovates your home — an Extreme Makeover (Soul Edition). He knocks out walls. He yanks up moldy carpet and puts in hardwood. He burns the lice-infested bedding. He fills your fridge. Everything is new again.

Now, Satan does still hang around and peer into your windows. And when you sin — and you will — it’s because you’re acting like Satan is still your slumlord. Progressively, you see Whose you are. And you grow more and more comfortable in your transformed digs. It feels more and more like home. You actually get stronger and you discover that you actually dance more.

If that doesn’t work for you, let’s try this one. Let’s say salvation is like a meal.

In fundamentalism, you sit down to eat. Prior to salvation, you only had one thing on the menu — a McDonald’s Value Meal. But at salvation, you invite Jesus to the pot luck, and He doubles the menu choices. So at every meal, Satan sits at one end of the table and Jesus at the other. Satan has his usual meal to offer you — McDonald’s Double-Quarter Pounder with Cheese, large fries, and a chocolate shake. Jesus brought a very healthy but unpalatable glass of kale juice with two raw eggs and soft tofu. Which are you going to choose? You’ve grown up on a diet of McD’s, but you know the Other is better for you. You must choose! At every meal!! Are you going to eat the right thing or damn your soul’s arteries to Hell? Eventually when you lose your teeth and taste buds, you find the kale smoothie actually easier to eat, and so you assume you’ve arrived in your weakened state and you shake your pious head at those who still steal the devil fries.

Outside fundamentalism, however, there’s still a meal, but it’s vastly different. I found this in Bob George’s Classic Christianity, by the way, which first startled me with the difference years ago. Before salvation, Jesus finds us dumpster diving. We’re accustomed to only the shadows of good food — the twisted and rotting perversion of the ideal meal. Jesus drags us out of the dumpster, kicking and screaming. We like our good ol’ prolific garbage source! He cleans us up, dresses us, and sits us down in front of a feast. A feast! Think Babette! And you’re a little timid at first. “What exactly is this that I’m eating?”

Sure — sometimes Jesus find us licking out sin’s compost bucket. We have a taste for garbage! And Jesus yanks us out again, wipes our mouth, and helps us back to the feast. Gradually we learn how to enjoy the complex flavors in His cuisine. We also learn that we need the nurture that the food gives us.

And really? It’s all an just appetizer for our upcoming Marriage Supper.

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15 thoughts on “Things I Never Heard in Fundamentalism — Salvation (14)

  1. Pingback: A Time to Laugh
  2. Jesus knocks the door down &tc.?

    My dear bojo sister! 🙂 Wow!

    This view of Jesus is the result of decontextualizing, losing the locations of ideas in the Holy Scriptures. Yes, Jesus went after the Pharisees in what should have been the house of prayer.

    However He will be no mans controller, manipulater or seducer: He did not create robots, that would be utterly unlike God.

    No, he stands at the door and knocks! Like a real gentleman, which He is!

    He says, Come and see, abide with me tonight (John 1) when disciples of John become curious.

    He says, Come unto me all ye that labor. . . . and … you know the passage in Matthew. “Take my yoke upon you says He and ye shall find rest to your souls.

    I could go on and on with simple teachings (which are perfectly corroborated by Paul, Peter, James, Jude, John, all New Covenant apostles) of God’s call to men to do for himself, what God directs, or remain a child of the world, of satan. Only Jesus saves, but he does not do so for one who does not respond to Him in the way HE requires!

    Readings of the Bible keep us balancedm bit readings in theology. I know, I got and threw away my Masters in Theology, but I continue to add to my thousands of books and hundreds of Bibles.

    Jesus is EVER the scrupulous gentleman and forces no mans soul, unless that is your definition of love, a man who instead of wooing you, forces you??? Of course not; yet that is precisely the abusive doctrines espoused by reformed. Don’t look to men for truth, please.

    I don’t believe it. I do not believe Jesus comes and grabs us. Dispensationalism and covenant theology are equally dismissive of our Saviours meek and lowly spirit, his life giving words, his loving embrace and his peaceful ways. It is true he brings a sword, but he bids us use it on ourselves; HE will NOT use it on us.

    Jesus speaks to the multitudes in parables and will not break their will, open their eyes release their ears apart from their breaking up their own fallow ground, and seeking with a whole heart.

    The rich young ruler, whom he looks at and loves, he will not force his soul though the ruler had chastened himself with a form of love and effort in the Commandments of God!

    All things work together for good for whom?

    For those who love God. Does God force you, make you, manipulate you to love Him? Then you would have to return the “favor! to love God!

    I would remind you that Romans 8:28 is only one verse away – AND PREPARATORY TO, the doctine of predestination and election and tells us who and why He elects, Romans 8:28-30, as does Peter, with exact same words and order.

    God’s order is always indispensible to understanding the WAYS of God.

    Please my dear sister, Beware flopping from the Pharisaical legalese to the Simplistic Liscensiousness, (Lawlessness) of The Proof of Grace ideas that are tickling your ears and suggesting God’s grace is so free we must sin boldly as Luther supposedly told Melancthon. How disgusting a view of grace. Grace means things that Reformed will not allow! Charis! Charis in Greek comes from Chara.

    Anyway, enough re: systematic theology.

    Balance. Wisdom. And Faith that comes from reading the Bible again and again and again, is our greatest need today. Romans 10:17 transforms and teaches us through faith. Contrariwise men talk and please the itching ears. But Paul taught the Cross.
    Jesus bids us come to him and die.

    He bids us. For if we do he will suprise us with Joy!

    We do not decide? Of course he rescues us, but without our decision?…. That is frankly damnable in my estimation. Over and over again Jesus is calling for a decision, for a verdict from men to whom he disciples.

    Well anyway, your writing and posts are great, refreshing and I enjoyed fellowshipping with you despite some of what I perceive to be your overreaction against an obviously heavy handed, Pharisaical system of religion we have experienced in a somewhat deceptive form at BJU. However a lot of good still remains at the school!

    I graduated ’84 from BJU. Now I stand for the reviving of Jesus words and ways, not for BJU, though I seek to restore them in particular ways that will only make my life more miserable than it already is now, lol.

    But to you: God bless you richly as you look deeper into his words and loving faith reports all through the vastly rich and immeasureably treasureable stories and promises of the Bible!

    Thanks for the good music. I do not regard the change from I have decided to follow Jesus to be entirely incorrect. However it seems less correct to me than the true I have decided to follow, since it avoids all sense of the responsibilities which God calls upon us to decide for and act upon, lest we endanger our souls!

    Yours for reviving Jesus Words and ways. Roy.

  3. “Decontextualizing”? “Tickling [my] ears”? Call it what you will. I’ve read Ephesians 1 and Romans 9. I know first-hand the results of just-over-a-century old decision theology and revivalism. Not gonna buy it anymore. Yes, Jesus broke down the door of my soul — not because He’s a bully but precisely because He was a “gentleman.” He’s a Hero-Redeemer.

    We Christians have gotten the idea that being a Christian makes you “nice.” It doesn’t. And Jesus proves that in the way He saves us. It’s all in the ordo salutis.

  4. Ahhh… the domesticated Jesus. So toned down that it’s nearly impossible to imagine him turning over tables in the temple, telling religious authorities that they are like tombs full of rotting flesh, etc. He radically violated social conventions by not only allowing women to sit at his feet but also to touch him. And some of those women were of questionable character (Lk. 7). Sinless, yes! But scrupulous gentleman, no. People were far too important to him to worry about who might get their knickers in twist.

    But seriously, Roy, MA, thousands of books, and hundred of bibles aside, your understanding of Reformed Theology misses the mark about as much as your understanding of Jesus. You refer to many passages that speak of what sinful humanity *may* do. No descent Calvinist would deny any of them. But Calvinist also take into account the equally numerous passages that speak of sinful humanity *can* do. The biblical picture of humanity prior to regeneration is that we are not merely sick or wounded but dead.

    What kind of grace does a dead person need? S/He needs grace that acts and performs and changes.

  5. Question posed to a husband: Who would want someone’s love because they’re forced to love? Wouldn’t God *want* us to come to him *willingly* with our love?

    Husband’s response: Well, of course he *wants* that, but we *won’t*. I thought that was the whole point. (Of the incarnation, death, and resurrection, etc., i.e., God’s whole plan for redemption.)

  6. And just one more thought in my tired brain . . .

    If I’m standing on a track with a steam engine barreling down on me and I’m too paralyzed by fear and indecision to get out of danger, I sure as shootin’ want my very gentlemanly husband to shove me off the track and save my life. I’m pretty sure I’ll give him a hug when it’s all over and not give one whit to the fact that he had to shove me.

    Alternatively, my gentlemanly husband says, “Excuse me, Lee, dear, would you like me to help you get off that train track and out of the way of the oncoming train? I’m certainly capable of getting you off the track, you just let me know, I’ll be right here. When you’re ready.” *splat!*

  7. Seems like you can’t say anything at all about Christianity without fellow christians diving right in & ripping it to shreds. We’re different people, we will perceive Jesus differently. Let’s give each other a break.

  8. We are in danger when we attempt to make God into our own image to worship. We usually end up worshiping ourselves and being reduced to the hypocrisy of judging others for failing to measure up to the standards of Diety crafted by our own minds. Maybe it is an attempt to seek validation for our own idols. Maybe accepting Jesus for Who He is as He has already revealed Himself to be–the Friend of Sinners–is too novel of an idea; human nature must somehow mingle faith with works, using works as a proof of faith. All my best works are filth before the Holiness of Christ. So I need my faith to fill in what is missing–where I fall short–Jesus is there to impute what I do not possess, His own holiness in spite of my feeble attempts to practice holiness. I am just glad that He is there.

  9. I agree with your illustration of the new landlord. In fact, I learned that in fundamentalism. I must admit that I never heard the other illustration.

    I am sorry that has been your experience. I am not trying to be an apologist for fundamentalism; it does have its faults and I do get frustrated with it.

    I am thankful that Truth still break through in spite of us.

  10. Father Robert Barron, of Word On Fire ministries, is on UTube, and says an interesting thing to challenge our independent minded intellects and assumptions about what we think we know and understand: “If you think you understand GOD, it isn’t God!” I think meanness, lack of charity, along with ‘discipline with no mercy love or compassion’, with no real human love and healthy affection, being demonstrated to another, in the home and in churches, I think THAT is a most negative and FALSE image of God being acted out by people who ‘disfigure’ the image of God. And a MIS representation of God the Father which the enemy uses, to lie to people’s minds that God is really mean. This twisted and distorted image of God ‘syndrome’, is what is behind so much of the damage done by abusive parents ,abusive pastors , and abusive church leaders, that breaks people’s hearts, breaks their will, and crushes their human spirit. Result? Precious people are robbed of their ability to trust God as loving Father. Authority figures in the home and in the church who bully and abuse, disfigure the ‘fatherhood and motherhood of God’ to those they bully and abuse. God the Father is not anthropomorphic. God is not a taskmaster. But sometimes, while we’re not paying attention, we carelessly allow a mere man or woman in authority, who really lack true authority, ( because true authority is to serve and protect, ‘not to be served’ or ‘be on a power trip’ to wield power! ) to act like a taskmaster around our life. It is our personal responsibility to practice Godly boundaries with wisdom and common sense. No one else is going to do this for us. But we do need to support one another to practice this protection of our lives from this ind of religious harm being done to our lives. We can help one another ‘be empowered’ in this protection of our freedom and happiness in Christ. There are Epiphany moments when, we need to wake up and follow our real Master, Jesus, who never puts heavy weights or guilty burdens on us. Jesus said that He is The Good Shepherd. And The Good Shepherd really cares for His sheep. And His sheep hear His voice and follow Him. “I have come that you might have life, and have it more abundantly.” A very good article.

  11. So yes, I am late to this particular party. But for anyone to ridicule, criticize, cut down, correct or in any way superiorize their God-given experience and thought-process about theology and doctrine over that of another individual who also has a set of thoughts and experiences give from God, well, THAT is precisely what the man-made-up theology of fundamentalism tells us to do. “You must IMMEDIATELY RUN, don’t walk, jump down their throat, excoriate them. judge, Judge, JUDGE. They are not Christian because they do not believe the exact word-for-tittle that WE made up! Throw them out from the bubble into the world that God crated us to be in!”

    The thing that I do not EVER remember happening – no, not once – never in fundamentalism did I see action… THE action that Jesus himself said was penultimate. One word: LOVE.

    Camille, thank you for your sharing with us how God is working in your life and how he is revealing himself to you. It informs his working in my life. We all impact each other.

    My head is often twisted in confusion because of the disparity (and quite frankly autocratic tyranny) in what I was told the Bible says (read: “This is what you believe and if you believe or even contemplate anything different you are not a Christian), what the Bible actually says (Huh??? You mean the KJV was not the version that Paul and Joel wrote and there are no original manuscripts and there are words we are just guessing at?), and the actions of those autocrats compared to what Crist’s actions were.

    Never. Ever. In all of infinity would Christ go to the parents of a teenager and say “Your kid was naughty. Throw him out of your house ’cause if you don’t, well, sorry, no more job for you. Oh, and by the way, good luck on getting another job or even finding a place to live ’cause we’ve paid you so little you have not been able to save anything and you have no way to move anywhere anyway.”

    Fundamentalism is tied up in looks and appearances. It cannot begin to deal with true issues and the “inside.” WE are SHOW WINDOWS. And because we are a show window, we have the power to know and understand you inside and judge you about it. The way the fundamentalist sees thins, if you do not conform to their man-made set of rules and your hair happens to touch your collar or your hairline naturally grows less than two fingers above your eyebrows – sorry, you ain’t a-getting in.

    To end my frustrated rant, let me ask this – with all due respect to Camille and her understanding of salvation and to those who have so vociferously attacked that understanding – Which matters most: the method that was used for Christ to enter our proverbial house or the fact that he entered the house and is living there?

    1. Amen! Yeah, Jesus cleans us up. Sometimes He’s renovating a Danish modern house; sometimes a Colonial. So?

      Thanks, Joel. You’re a good egg.

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